The Vacuum Metalizing Process
Typically, the metalizing occurs in one of two ways:
- Physical Vapor Deposition: The metal vapor used for the coating comes from a liquid or solid source.
- Chemical Vapor Deposition: The metal vapor comes from a chemical source.
Both processes follow the same steps.
Step 1 – Tooling
We fabricate customized tooling fixtures, which hold your parts in place ready for masking. The key here is to drive efficiency at all stages of the tooling process. Poor tooling drives up costs later on.
At the tooling stage, we create an array that achieves maximum coverage of your parts. As a general rule, we create lower costs by coating more parts per cycle.
Step 2 – Loading
We follow strict loading procedures to lower the risk of contamination and defects during the metalizing process. Our quality guidelines consider your quality standards as the minimum standard we must achieve. Typically, we’ll look to exceed these quality standards wherever possible.
We also use pre-masking procedures during the loading process. This reduces the need for manual masking later on. Again, this reduces the cost of the process.
Step 3 – Applying the Base Coating
Though not always necessary, this step primes the part so that it can properly receive the metal vapor. A base coating improves the adhesive quality of the part. This leads to longer-lasting results.
We use a High-Volume, Low-Pressure Spray System to apply the coating. The process itself depends on the parts that require coating. We use automated robotic paint arms for high-volume applications. However, low-volume applications often see the base coating applied manually.
Step 4 – Vacuum Metalizing
Using a vacuum chamber, we vaporize the metal using a filament. This vapor flows in a single direction, which offers our equipment full control over its flow onto a part.
The machine rotates the part precisely to ensure even deposition of the metal vapor. This creates a consistent coating thickness. This is also where the tooling used in Step 1 comes into practice. This tooling ensures the parts stay in place through the metalizing process.
Step 5 – Applying the Top Coat
Though not always required, a top coat can enhance the properties of your coated part. For example, some coatings improve the part’s chemical, moisture, or abrasion resistance.
In some cases, a top coating can enhance the appearance of the part.
Typically, we’ll recommend a top coating if our review of your requirements calls for it. We also engineer this coating to suit your requirements.
Step 6 – Quality Inspection
All parts undergo rigorous quality inspections before they’re released to the client.
These inspections ensure the part exceeds current industry standards. Moreover, they ensure the part meets or exceeds the specific requirements that you put in place. Such requirements may include ensuring the part meets the following standards:
- ISO 9001
- ISO/TS 16949
Moreover, we track errors throughout the process to ensure they’re corrected. Each part comes with a tracking tag for further traceability.